About efc

In the early 1960's two award winning executives from WETA, (Washington DC Public Television)--Bob Smith and Jack Hunter-- had a vision: Closed-circuit television for schools in Northern Virginia. One problem. There was no federal funding available for "Closed- circuit television". They were aware, however, of potential funding through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Gambling on their vision and their future, they left WETA, applied for funding and obtained a broadcast license for WNVT, Channel 53 to serve the community and schools in Northern Virginia. They worked out a mutually beneficial agreement with Northern Virginia Community College to provide studio space in exchange for allowing the college access to the facilities for courses in broadcast engineering.

In 1968 they hired a small team of writers and young filmmakers and contracted to National Instructional Television (NIT) (later the Agency for Instructional Television (AIT)) to produce a series of instructional television programs. Ripples, The National Emmy Award winning Inside/Out, Self Incorporated, Bread and Butterflies, Trade-offs and Thinkabout were just a few of many. These programs filled much of the daytime programming schedules on state and local educational television stations and reached millions of public school students nationwide. They also provided the team with invaluable experience by working with children of all ages and nationally recognized experts in education and evaluation. Like any young company we experienced financial ups and downs and in 1974 the television division found itself with severe cost overruns. We were forced to sell our broadcast license and all our facilities. The film division was in crisis. We had no home.

Both management and filmmakers were faced with a choice; close up shop or begin over again. Bolstered by our success producing award-winning instructional television programs we decided to take what little money was saved from previous contracts to buy new film equipment , rent new space and gamble on our future. In 1975 Educational Film Center (EFC) was born.

For awhile it was touch and go. But the team stayed together and produced, Pacific Bridges and Pearls, two award winning minority programs for the U.S. Department of Education (thank you Dave Berkman). Then came a small program for NASA followed by a teacher training program for AIT (thank you Larry Walcoff) and an award winnning local program for the National Zoo. At this point our writers and producers focused attention on an RFP (Request for Proposals) for parents of young children issued by the Department of Education.

It was a long shot. The competition was awesome. It consisted of the largest, most experienced public television stations in the nation: WGBH in Boston. WNET in New York, WQED in Pittsburgh, KCET in Los Angeles and WTTW in Chicago. But CEO Jack Hunter thought we had one advantage .

 

As filmmakers the world was our studio. We could film anywhere. We had the flexibility to go wherever parents and children could be found. And so Jack had us produce a demonstration reel of our capabilities that broadcast stations locked into their studio bound facilities could not match.

So a miracle happened. In 1976 we were awarded a 2.4 million dollar contract from the US Department of Education. Educational Film Center (EFC) - this small, independent, nonprofit, multimedia company - burst onto the national scene and produced Footsteps, an award winning PBS series for parents of young children. (thank you Mike Neben)

 

 

Footsteps was followed by Powerhouse a 3.5 million dollar, award winning PBS children's series on health and nutrition. Soon after came an NBC After-School-Special funded by the National Endowment for the Humaniies (NEH). Out of Time was named "the most outstanding individual children's program of the year" by Action For Children's Television (ACT)

 

The rest is history. One project followed another. Funded by federal and state agencies, national endowments and private firms we sought to respond to the educational needs of all students and teachers. By the turn of the century Educational Film Center was considered one of the nation's leading producers of effective educational programming. Trained by highly respected educators, combined with some of the best creative writers and filmmakers in the country, EFC produced a melding of instruction and entertainment to create high quality educational programming.

As 2018 approaches EFC looks back at a remarkable record of having produced and distributed over 600 documentary and dramatic productions reaching millions of children and adult viewers worldwide while winning numerous national and international awards. As for the future, we look forward to bringing our past and present expertise in learning and technology to advance the nation's goals for an educated public in every stage of life.